Accidents happen in an instant in Salem, Alabama. Two vehicles collide at a downtown intersection, or someone slips on a spill in a grocery store. Sometimes these accidents are very serious and victims are left with catastrophic injuries. These injuries are extremely painful and result in expensive medical bills. Many injured victims are unable to work and earn an income while they recover.
When the accident was someone else’s fault, victims can seek compensation through a personal injury claim to pay medical bills, lost wages, and more. The process of filing a personal injury claim is often long and complex. Insurance issues will arise, and the accident victim must prove someone else was to blame for the accident.
An experienced Salem personal injury lawyer at Bence Law Firm, LLC is ready to help injured people take the right steps with their claim to give them the best chance of receiving the full amount of compensation they’re entitled to. Reach out to our dedicated team of attorneys today to get started.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Personal Injury Claim in Alabama?
Personal injury claims near you in Alabama hinge on the legal concept of negligence. Negligence is the failure to take proper care in order to keep other people safe. When a person is negligent and causes an accident that injures another person, the injured party can file a personal injury claim against them to seek compensation. In order to be successful, the injured party must prove:
- That the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the injured party.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered losses due to the defendant’s breach.
Proving negligence is one of the most difficult aspects of any personal injury claim. Due to the fact that accidents happen so suddenly, accident victims often aren’t even sure of how it happened. They may know someone else was at fault, but they don’t know how to prove it. To add to the complexities, the defendant may also try to blame the plaintiff partially for the accident. In Alabama, if the accident victim is even 1 percent to blame for the accident, they are barred from receiving compensation.
Common Types of Personal Injury Legal Services
Types of Salem, AL personal injury cases that are more common than others include:
- Car crashes
- Truck wrecks
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian injuries
- Motorcycle crashes
- Construction accidents
- Wrongful death
- Premises liability
- Slip & fall accidents
- Product liability
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
Types of Damages You Could Recover in a Personal Injury Claim
The types of compensation available in a personal injury claim are known as damages. There are many different types of damages you could recover in a personal injury claim. Some of the most common are:
- Medical costs including emergency care, home health care costs, physical therapy, treatment supplies such as crutches, and medication
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium including loss of affection, companionship, sexual relations, comfort
- Lost wages including tips, bonuses, and retirement contributions
- Lost earning capacity, if you cannot perform the same type of work after the accident
- Replacement services, such as a housekeeper if you are unable to perform these tasks
- Property damage
These are known as compensatory damages. They are meant to restore the accident victim to the life they had before the accident as best as possible. In certain rare cases, Alabama courts may also award punitive damages. In order to receive this type of compensation, you must show that the defendant acted with extreme carelessness or negligence. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the accident victim. Instead, they are meant to punish the defendant and deter them and others from behaving in the same manner in the future.
How Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help with Your Case
When filing a personal injury lawsuit, some people think they can represent themselves without a lawyer. However, this is not an easy task and doing so could negatively affect the amount of compensation you receive. An attorney can help every aspect of your case and will do the heavy lifting while you focus on your recovery and your life.
One of the first things a legal professional will do is gather important evidence such as witness statements, photographs, video surveillance, and accident reports. This will help an attorney determine how the accident happened and determine who was really at fault.
Once your physical condition has stabilized, a lawyer can gather medical reports, records and bills, employment records, and other documentation to calculate the full extent of your losses.
Once an attorney knows how much to ask for in damages, they will then be able to negotiate with the insurance company from a position of strength. If an offer is made, an attorney will then present you with the offer and advise on whether it’s fair.
This is an area in which personal injury lawyers in Salem are particularly helpful. Some accident victims are happy to receive anything at all from the insurance company. When they jump at the first offer, they could miss out on the full amount of compensation they actually deserve. If the insurance company does not offer fair compensation, an attorney can then file a lawsuit and prepare the case for trial.
If the case does go to trial, having a loyal legal professional by your side is especially helpful. Before the trial begins the case will move into discovery. At this point both sides can ask for information and the each side is obligated to provide it. Discovery may involve depositions of many people, including experts and witnesses.
If the case goes to trial, your tenacious attorney can argue your case to the jury, question and cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence to help you win your case.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Rights After an Accident in Salem, Alabama
The moments immediately following an accident are important. Taking the right steps will help protect your rights when you later pursue compensation for your losses. Failing to take the proper steps can greatly hurt your case and may even bar you from recovering any compensation at all.
- Seeking medical treatment for your injuries is the most important thing after any accident. You should visit the doctor even if you don’t think at first that you’ve been seriously injured. Many injuries such as concussions and whiplash aren’t apparent right away. A doctor will know what to look for to identify any injuries, and help you get the treatment you need for them. Getting medical treatment after an accident will also help prove the extent of your injuries, which could help your case later on.
- No matter where the accident happened, it’s important to take pictures of the scene of the accident. You should take as many pictures as possible, and make sure they include everything that may have contributed to the accident. If the accident happened on someone else’s property, take pictures of the hazard that caused the accident. If the accident was due to a defective product, take pictures of the defect and what the product looked like after use. Pictures help determine what happened and who was at fault. You can never have too many.
- If insurance is an issue and you need to speak to your own insurance company, such as after a car crash, it’s important you report the accident to them within 24 hours if possible.
- If the accident involves someone else’s insurance, such as homeowners’ insurance or another driver’s insurance company, you should never speak to them without an attorney. They will often try to take a recorded statement or get you to sign a release for your medical documents. You are under no legal obligation to do either of these things, and in fact, providing the insurance company with this information can hurt your case. Let an attorney deal with the other party’s insurance company on your behalf.
- Most importantly, you should speak to a personal injury attorney in Salem, AL. They will not only represent you throughout your entire case, but also advise on these important steps and others that you should take after an accident to ensure your rights are protected.
Schedule a Consultation with a Salem Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you need a seasoned Salem personal injury lawyer on your side.
At Bence Law Firm, LLC, we know how to seek the compensation accident victims deserve and we want to help you with your personal injury claim. Now is the time for you to focus on your physical recovery, so don’t try to handle a lawsuit on your own.
Contact us today for a free claim review and advice about your best legal options.